Appropriate Adult, the controversial ITV drama about the Fred and Rose West murder investigation, dominated the Bafta Television Awards.
Dominic West was named Leading Actor for his portrayal of Fred West, and Monica Dolan won Best Supporting Actress for her role as Rose, beating Downton Abbey’s Dame Maggie Smith.
Emily Watson won the Leading Actress award for her performance as Janet Leach, the trainee social worker who was assigned as an ‘appropriate adult’ to accompany West during his police interviews.
Leach was traumatised by her contact with Fred West, who confided gruesome details about his crimes. But she was also vilified for selling her story to a tabloid newspaper and became a virtual recluse after her involvement in the case.
Accepting his Bafta, Dominic West said: "When I first met Janet, she said she hoped the film would bring some closure to the misunderstanding and pain she suffered. I hope she feels some closure and that we honoured the suffering she endured and the suffering of all of the West victims, living and dead."
The actor, who found fame in US crime drama The Wire and was a contemporary of David Cameron at Eton, said he was reluctant initially to take on the role of Fred West.
He suffered nightmares during filming and, in his acceptance speech, thanked his family “who brought me back into the light after playing the role”.
The Bafta ceremony at London’s Royal Festival Hall favoured serious television, with Channel 4’s This Is England ‘88 winning Best Mini Series.
Best Single Documentary went to Terry Pratchett: Choosing To Die, another controversial programme in which the award-winning author filmed an assisted suicide at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland.
In the lighter categories, Jennifer Saunders won Best Female Performance in a Comedy Programme for Absolutely Fabulous, the long-running sitcom. She last won a Bafta for the programme in 1993 and told last night’s audience: “Thank you for still finding it funny.”
The Great British Bake-Off, the surprise ratings hit featuring Mary Berry, was named Best Feature.
Borgen, the latest in a line of Scandinavian crime dramas and broadcast here on BBC Four, won the International category.
The Best Drama Series prize went to The Fades, a fantasy horror screened on BBC Three. Embarrassingly for the BBC, the series was cancelled after one series due to budget cuts despite attracting over 800,000 viewers, a decent figure for the digital channel.
A BBC spokesman said: “It was a brilliant first series, but on BBC Three we only have a limited budget for drama.”
The most intriguing battle took place in the Best Supporting Actor category where two actors from Sherlock, the BBC One update of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective stories, went head-to-head.
The prize went to Andrew Scott, who plays the mysterious Moriarty and beat his co-star Martin Freeman, aka Dr Watson.
Scott said he was stunned to win and showed his colleague with praise, calling Freeman “a brilliant actor, colleague and human being”.
Rolf Harris received the Academy Fellowship in recognition of his outstanding contribution to television. Tim Corrie, chairman of Bafta, said: “Rolf Harris is one of the world’s most iconic entertainers.
“He has huge audience appeal across multiple generations, and we are delighted to honour his contribution to television and the arts.”
Steven Moffatt, the creator of Sherlock and head writer on Doctor Who, was given the Special Award for creative writing on television.
Graham Norton, won the Best Entertainment Performance award, beating Dara O’Briain, who hosted the Bafta ceremony. Norton could not be there because he was in Azerbaijan, where he provided commentary on the Eurovision Song Contest.
O’Briain joked: “I can’t begrudge Graham - he’s spent the past 24 hours comforting Engelbert Humperdinck.”
The winners in full:
Leading actor - Dominic West (Appropriate Adult, ITV1)
Leading actress - Emily Watson (Appropriate Adult, ITV1)
Supporting actor - Andrew Scott (Sherlock, BBC1)
Supporting actress - Monica Dolan (Appropriate Adult, ITV1)
Entertainment performance - Graham Norton (The Graham Norton Show, BBC1)
Female performance in a comedy programme - Jennifer Saunders (Absolutely Fabulous, BBC1)
Male performance in a comedy programme - Darren Boyd (Spy, Sky One)
Special Award - Steven Moffat
Bafta Fellowship - Rolf Harris
Single drama - Random (Channel 4)
Mini series - This Is England '88 (Channel 4)
Drama series - The Fades (BBC3)
Soap and continuing drama - Coronation Street(ITV1)
International - Borgen (BBC4)
Factual series - Our War (BBC3)
Specialist factual - Mummifying Alan: Egypt's Last Secret (Channel 4)
Single documentary - Terry Pratchett: Choosing To Die (BBC2)
Features - The Great British Bake Off (BBC2)
Reality & Constructed Factual - The Young Apprentice (BBC1)
Current Affairs - Panorama: Undercover Care - The Abuse Exposed (BBC1)
News Coverage - Channel 4 News: Japan Earthquake (Channel 4)
Sport & Live Event - The Royal Wedding (BBC1)
New Media - Psychoville (BBC Online)
Entertainment Programme - Derren Brown: The Experiments (Channel 4)
Comedy Programme - Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle (BBC2)
Situation Comedy - Mrs Brown's Boys (BBC1)
YouTube Audience Award - Celebrity Juice (ITV2)